Butchers, Meat Cutters and Fishmongers - Retail and Wholesale

Unit Group 6251

Skill Type: Sales and Service Occupations

Type of work

Butchers, meat cutters and fishmongers, retail and wholesale, prepare standard cuts of meat, poultry, fish and shellfish for sale in retail or wholesale food establishments. Butchers who are supervisors or heads of departments are included in this group.

For the full and official description of this occupation according to the National Occupational Classification, visit the NOC site.

Examples of Occupational Titles

  • butcher, retail
  • butcher apprentice
  • head butcher - wholesale
  • meat cutter - retail or wholesale
  • supermarket meat cutter

Outlook

Job prospects in this occupation are fair.

(Update: April 2014)

Until the turn of the century, the number of butchers, meat cutters and fishmongers, retail and wholesale, has increased sharply, then increased only slightly thereafter. Employment changes in this occupation are primarily a function of trends that affect food stores and consumer habits. Given these trends, their numbers should continue to increase only slightly over the next few years.

Sources of employment

Opportunities will stem primarily from positions that become available as butchers, meat cutters and fishmongers retire and, to a lesser degree, from employment increase. Other opportunities will arise as people leave to take jobs in other occupations, food-related or otherwise. A certain number of butchers, meat cutters or fishmongers may be promoted to management positions in food retail or they may open their own butcher shop or fish store (see 0621). Part of the career path can be followed within the occupation itself, from butcher helper, apprentice or shop clerk to butcher, for example.

Labour pool

There will be employment opportunities available for a large pool of candidates. First, students looking for part-time, evening or weekend work constitute a major pool for some jobs, especially as butcher shop or fish store clerks or meat cutters. Job opportunities in this occupation are also accessible to young people without much education as they can learn the trade by working alongside an experienced butcher or fishmonger or by training on the job. Then, other positions could be filled by experienced butchers, meat cutters and fishmongers who are unemployed and, to a lesser extent, by immigrants. Indeed, although slightly below average for all occupations (11% compared to 12% in 2006, according to census data), the proportion of immigrants in this occupation indicates that it is nonetheless accessible to newcomers.

Finally, other opportunities will be filled by people with a Vocational Studies Diplomas (DEP) in retail butchery. Most of the time, the labour market status of graduates with this DEP compares favourably to that of vocational program graduates generally in terms of placement and unemployment rates, according to data from the Quebec Department of Education, Recreation and Sport's Relance survey. On the other hand, their salary is much lower than average. It should be noted that new enrolments and graduates in this program, after falling more than 50% between 1998-1999 and the middle of the first decade of the 2000s then increased about 40%. The good situation on the labor market for graduates certainly explain the recent increase. As their situation remained good despite this increase, it is quite possible that the labor market is able to accommodate even more.

This program is also very relevant when it comes to accessing this occupation. In fact, about 90% of graduates of this DEP program who found a job in their field between 2005 and 2012 worked in this occupation.

Industries

According to census data, approximately 87% of butchers, meat cutters and fishmongers, retail and wholesale, were employed in food stores in 2006, particularly, grocery stores (63%), but also in specialty butcher shops and fish stores (24%). A significant number of them worked for wholesale food distributors (7%).

Trends

Employment changes in this occupation are primarily a function of trends that affect food stores and consumer habits.

Over the past 20 years, there have been major changes in food buying in Quebec. According to Statistics Canada's weights for the consumer price index data, the proportion of household budgets devoted to food purchases increased by more than 3% in restaurants while it fell by almost 5% in stores. The relative increase in food purchases in restaurants is partly attributable to an improved economic climate, but mainly to demographic and social factors.

Although food purchases by Quebecers went up more rapidly in restaurants than in food stores, in 2009, the Quebec consumer still spent close to 72% of the total amount spent on food, in food stores.

In 2009, that same Quebec consumer spent a much lower proportion of his or her food purchases in stores on meat than in 1986 (18% as opposed to 28%). The relative increase in restaurant spending and, particularly, the decrease in spending on red meat could potentially have resulted in less employment in this occupation. However, other changes in the consumer habits of Quebecers actually fostered slightly employment growth in this area.

First, there has been spectacular growth in sales of ready-to-eat and pre-cooked food products. Purchases of pre-cooked dinners increased by 470% between 1986 and 2001, while purchases of other pre-cooked food products jumped by 700%. For raw meats, the demand for new cuts, smaller formats and partially prepared (but not cooked) dishes also grew dramatically. These new consumer habits are attributable in large part to the strong presence of women in the labour market and the fact that people are wanting to spend less and less time preparing meals. Naturally, these consumer habits have generated growth in this occupation, but also for industrial butchers, meat cutters and poultry preparers (see 9462), who help to prepare these cuts for food processing companies.

Once their main effects were felt, these trends contributed far less to growth in employment in this occupation in recent years. Employment in this occupation is therefore expected to grow at the same pace as employment in food stores in the future. Consequently, we are forecasting that the number of butchers and meat cutters, retail and wholesale, will increase slightly over the next few years.

Employment characteristics

According to census data, women occupied about 16% of the positions in this occupation in 2005, a slight decline from 1991 (20%). The annual average income figure ($28,893) found under "Characteristics" in the "Statistics" section, applies to only 59% of those who worked in this occupation full time and full year in 2005. The average annual income of those not working full time and full year, including students, was $14,746.

Working weekends, evenings and holidays is common. People in this occupation must be in good physical shape as butchers, meat cutters and fishmongers are often required to be on their feet for many hours at a time and to carry fairly heavy loads. They must also be able to work in a cold environment.

Education and Training

It is possible to find work as a butcher, meat cutter or fishmonger without specific training. According to data from the 2006 Census, more than 50% of the people working in this occupation had no post-secondary education and only 30% of them had a post-secondary diploma or degree in Personal and Culinary Services. Apprenticing with a recognized butcher or fishmonger and on-the-job training represent one way of getting into this fairly popular occupation. However, the Vocational Studies Diploma (DEP) in retail butchery is a major asset for those entering this occupation and is often a requirement.

School boards offer an Attestation of Vocational Education (AFP) as butcher helper and also provide tailor-made programs in butchery. Major food chains also make meat-and-fish-cutting training programs available for their employees.

A Certificate of Qualification in retail butchery is also offered. This certificate can be a prerequisite to employment and is an asset in any event.

Useful References

Important Considerations

Given the trends affecting food stores and consumer habits, the number of butchers, meat cutters and fishmongers, retail and wholesale, should increase only slightly over the next few years.

It is possible to find work as a butcher, meat cutters or fishmongers without specific training. Apprenticing with a recognized butcher or fishmonger and on-the-job training represent one way of getting into this fairly popular occupation. However, the Vocational Studies Diploma (DEP) in retail butchery is a major asset for entering this occupation and is often a pre-requisite to employment. In fact, the labour market status of graduates with this DEP usually compares favourably with that of vocational training graduates generally.

Statistics 6251 - Butchers and Meat Cutters - Retail and Wholesale

Main Labour Market Indicators

In the following table, indicators such as the growth rate, yearly variation in employment, yearly attrition and total annual requirements are forecasts generated by economists from Service Canada, Quebec region. The data source for employment is Statistics Canada’s Labour Force Survey. The volumes of unemployment insurance beneficiaries come from Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC)’s administrative data. All of the data are rounded.

  Unit Group 6251 All occupations
Employment, average 2010-2012 14,300 3,951,050
Employment Insurance claimants in 2012 150 87,600
Average Annual Growth Rate 2013-2017 0.6% 0.8%
Annual Employment Variation 2013-2017 80 33,400
Annual Attrition 2013-2017 200 73,500
Total Annual Needs 2013-2017 280 106,900

Employment Distribution

The data from the following employment distribution tables come from Statistics Canada’s 2011 National Household Survey (NHS).

  Unit Group 6251 All occupations
Employment by Gender
Males 84.0% 51.9%
Females 16.0% 48.1%
Employment by Age
15 - 24 years 27.0% 13.3%
25 - 44 years 31.0% 42.7%
45 - 64 years 38.7% 41.1%
65 years and over 3.3% 2.8%
Employment by Status
Full-time 77.8% 81.2%
Part-time 22.2% 18.8%
Employment by Annual Income
Full-time, full-year 58.8% 54.8%
Annual Average Income $31,100 $50,300
$0 - $19,999 17.1% 13.3%
$20,000 - $49,999 77.4% 48.0%
$50,000 and over 5.5% 38.8%
Employment by Highest Level of Schooling
Less than high-school 27.0% 12.1%
High-school 25.0% 20.3%
Post-secondary 46.7% 44.2%
Bachelors 1.2% 23.4%
Others Employment Distribution
Self-employment 6.0% 10.7%
Immigration 11.0% 13.7%
Employment by Region
RegionUnit Group 6251 All occupations
Abitibi-Témiscamingue 1.8% 1.8%
Bas-Saint-Laurent 3.3% 2.3%
Capitale-Nationale 10.6% 9.4%
Centre-du-Québec 2.8% 2.9%
Chaudière-Appalaches 6.8% 5.5%
Côte-Nord / Nord-du-Québec 1.7% 1.6%
Estrie 4.6% 3.8%
Gaspésie-îles-de-la-Madeleine 1.3% 0.9%
Lanaudière 6.9% 6.1%
Laurentides 7.2% 7.3%
Laval 4.6% 5.2%
Mauricie 4.2% 3.0%
Montérégie 17.9% 19.2%
Montréal 16.8% 22.9%
Outaouais 4.5% 4.9%
Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean 5.0% 3.3%

Main Sectors of Employment

The data of the following table were prepared by economists from Service Canada, Quebec region. The data source is Statistics Canada’s 2011 National Household Survey (NHS).

SectorUnit Group 6251
Retail Trade 94.1%
- Food and Beverage Stores (Meat Markets included) 92.0%